Home Forums Your Home Office Non-filing paper system?

This topic contains 22 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Avatar of bandicoot bandicoot 2 years, 6 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #159689
    Avatar of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    I was hoping someone else had this same issue and a solution – or even theoretical solutions.

    I’m not very good with filing folders, it’s just not how my brain works or stays organized (I’ve tried, but I find it a PITA to search for, or use paperwork). I prefer pocket folders such as those used for school or handed out by businesses.

    I’m just starting out so don’t have a lot of paper as of yet, and do most of my bills online. While having a folder per bill/designated area (health, cat, home, taxes, etc) is working for the short term I have not yet had to encounter long term paper storage. Does anyone else use something besides the traditional filing cabinet/hanging folders to save their paperwork? If so, what has worked?

  • #201880
    Avatar of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    Some people swear by this simple system: they use a monthly or yearly file folder or box. They put in every paper as it comes in, chronologically so the most recent is on top.

    I do a variation of this… my inbox is a chronological pile. Periodically, I file the stuff on the bottom, putting it into a traditional file cabinet system. Or by that point it’s clear that somethings can be tossed in the shredder.

  • #201882
    Avatar of Demerna
    Demerna
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I keep all of my long-term paperwork (i.e. taxes, DD214, titles, insurance policies, etc…)in a 2″ binder each item in a plastic sheet sleeve and then organize by category. Anything that is not critical long-term paperwork (i.e. paystubs, bill receipts, etc…) I request online pdfs of or scan in and keep digital copies. I also have digital copies of all of my long-term paperwork just-in-case. This system has worked much better for us than a file cabinet did.

  • #201905
    Avatar of grey
    grey
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    i have a small file box (standard folder size, maybe 4 inches deep) and keep my file labels really simple. Just the huge things in our life that come with paperwork i need in hard copy – car, taxes, immigration, etc. if i can access the information online or get it in hard copy if needed, it doesn’t get to stay in my house (bank statements are huge in this category).

  • #201907
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    Yes after years of punching and putting my bank statements in binders, I realized I never looked at them again, and now they are all available online if I need. I pay 90%+ of my stuff online, so the bank statement just shows me that my social security and pension were deposited, and I check that online anyway!

  • #201909
    Avatar of snosie
    snosie
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    pkilmain, alas I too rejoiced when my bank went paperless. And then it sent people the wrong statements, and I got a HUGE wad (just bought a place, so lots of transactions) of a statement, in an A4 envelope (obviously too big to fold, like every other bank statement I’ve received since I was 10!). So sad, and they say they’ve ‘closed’ e-statements indefinately :(((

  • #201910
    Avatar of
    Anonymous

    Non-filing paper system?

    Scanning the documents and keeping them electronically sometimes works. I do that for a number of papers, including my vet records. I’ll put any electronic files that I might want to have with me – like the vet records, in case I wind up at the emergency vet again – in Dropbox, so I’ll always have them available via my iPhone.

    And I was going to mention the single-box system, but Ella beat me to it. :-)

  • #201911
    Avatar of grey
    grey
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    snosie – that would seriously make me consider changing banks. i hate unnecessary papers.

  • #201933
    Avatar of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    These are definitely some good suggestions! I think just switching over to chronological from categories (minus pet and major things) will help a great deal.

  • #201959
    Avatar of xarcady
    xarcady
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I’ve never tried this, but there’s a filing system called the Noguchi filing system, named after its inventor. Instructions on how to set it up are here: http://www.markforster.net/blog/2008/6/9/noguchi-filing-system.html You can google for more info.

    Basically, the system uses large manilla envelopes, cut down to make a pocket, to file papers. The envelopes are stored on a shelf, with the most recently used envelope (or pocket) always on the left. This allows you to see which papers are used the most–the ones on the left are used frequently, the ones on the right rarely.

    I can see this working for people who need things stored out in the open (the whole “if I can’t see it, I forget about it” syndrome), or who don’t need/want an alphabetical filing system.

  • #201961
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I use pocket folders for lots of filing. Periodically I go through and cull stuff, it’s easy to chuck out the old insurance document when the new one comes in. I also have a ‘to be filed’ pile, and a few times a year I go through it, often I can chuck stuff instead of filing it :) I only do filing for my responsibilities though (cars, house, insurances, utilities). Dh files the financial stuff, and his system is chaotic. Luckily it’s mostly online though.

  • #202039
    Avatar of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    smallLife: I read about the chronological one-box system on LifeHacker, here:

    http://lifehacker.com/5136271/the-one+box-system-minimizes-time-spent-filing

  • #202070
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    The Noguchi filing system is one that I have been intrigued by for several years. I want to try it, but never have, as I do OK (not perfectly) with regular files.

    I might also suggest that if you are having difficulty filing, you might be keeping too many papers??? I have one file box (sits on my bookshelf) for taxes, financials, medical and vet records, house stuff, and so forth. Since there isn’t much stuff, it goes pretty smoothly.

    Side note: My biggest problem with filing is not at home, but at work, where my projects often span multiple topics and where we tend to end up needing bits and pieces of one project years later for something new that was unanticipated when doing the original work. So I do understand how it can be tough to force your mind to think in a very prescriptive and compartmentalized manner.

  • #202094
    Avatar of nws2002
    nws2002
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I use the Freedom Filer system (www.freedomfiler.com). Basically it realizes exactly what @pkilmain said, that we rarely access paperwork. So you file by month and keep most things for two years. Taxes are kept for 10. Other things (like car insurance) are in a remove/replace file, where out with the old, in with the new applies. A few things are permanent files (vaccination records, first and last paycheck, etc.).

    I realize this is a filing system, but maybe it would work with two of the month pocket folders (one for odd year, one for even) and a few others for taxes, remove/replace, and permanent files? The thing I love is that I can safely destroy paperwork from the monthly files as you go, keeping paper to a minimum. Who needs bank statements after two years? If you need them for tax records they should go in the tax file anyways.

    Now I have transitioned to scanning everything into Evernote, but I still use the same system of folders. I do keep hard copies of my tax returns and important documents in a small filebox though.

  • #202112
    Avatar of Irulan
    Irulan
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    If you have the space, you may prefer something open, like this paper sorter:
    http://www.lime-office.com.au/img/productImages/fellowes/25041.jpg

    We had one in our lab to keep copies of everyone’s publications handy, and it was both easy to use and easy to clear out.

  • #202322
    Avatar of mskris
    mskris
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I, too, hate filing, yet have to keep some things on paper (kids’ test scores, doctor’s notes from visits, as my kids have special needs), taxes, closing papers from homes sold/bought, and so on.

    For bills I have an accordian folder with 1 pocket per month. As the month changes, I shred all the previous year’s bills and file the new ones. That’s pretty easy to keep as I pay the bills online.

    My main problem is that I tend to stack papers that need to be saved long term (see above) on my desk and rarely get to the filing of them! I like the idea of scanning them, and I do have an external hard drive on which I could store them. Now, if I can just find the time to do the scanning! ;)

  • #202492
    Avatar of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I just reorganized my papers! I’m going with a hybrid of the one-box and folder methods. Everything except for pet records, current policies/warranties, and essentials (birth certificate, SSN, Passport, voting records) is “filed” chronologically. One folder per year, which will be capped at seven. Since I’m also a piler by nature, I’m hunting for a box to put to-be-filed and current paperwork.

    My biggest hurdle was getting out of “by type” into a “by date” system, and thank you everyone for validating that decision!!

    @sleepykitten: I think I might be saving too little as opposed to too much! I’m pre-emptively trying to tackle a disorganized area before it gets big (everything I have, including spare printer paper, fits into a magazine holder – about 4 in.)

  • #202511
    Avatar of sleepykitten
    sleepykitten
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    Congrats on picking a good system!

    And sorry if I misunderstood your original post…yeah, you aren’t saving too much at all! That’s nothing! :) Just ignore my advice – but trust me that it came from good intentions.

  • #202517
    Avatar of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    @sleepykitten: your post about your work filing actually helped me see what was wrong with my current system (I couldn’t keep categories straight) :-)

  • #202527
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    i have checked out the links and considered the ideas here, and come to the conclusion that i couldn’t live without a two drawer file cabinet!
    i love opening the drawer and seeing my beautifully labelled files, and knowing exactly where to place or retrieve a document.
    setting it up was the hardest part….i had to go through my entire system and think about my own peculiar requirements.
    but using it is easy.
    chronological wouldn’t work for me….i think in categories, not by month.
    with these systems, what happens when you need to file your new car insurance…..and toss the old one?
    how do you go about locating it?
    i go to the vehicles section >> car >> insurance, bam, the thing is done.

  • #202533
    Avatar of smallLife
    smallLife
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I’ve never understood how sub-categories work with filing folders, at least with the ones I’ve used the labels get hidden and the inner folder looks messy. That and I can never stick with the same categories. In theory, I wish I could use a filing cabinet as you described bandicoot. Car insurance (the card or a new policy?) would be in the folder for current policies, an easy swap.

    Something I thought of but didn’t use, is a folder with folders inside (something like this https://store.schoolspecialty.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?minisite=10224&item=491066). Would allow for categories or narrowing the chronological files.

  • #202536
    Avatar of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    I also use a hybrid method…
    I have a 2-drawer filing cabinet with brightly colored file folders: one color for each of eight categories (e.g., household, health, money matters, taxes). The folders are alphabetical in each color group. Inside each folder, the papers are chronological with the most recent on top.

    And I also keep an ongoing chronological pile in a big basket as new papers come in. It’s really very handy. Whenever it gets too full (or when I feel like it – haha) I file a bunch of stuff from the bottom. Many of those bottom papers are no longer needed and can go in the shredder. With this hybrid method, I cut way down on the time I used to spend in the file cabinet.

  • #202538
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Non-filing paper system?

    smalllife, inside the file drawer i have regular hanging files, and then labelled manilla folders within the files ( if needed).
    if a hanging file gets too bulging or messy, i break it down into two or more hanging files.
    i am not scared of having a hanging file with one document in it, if it is an important one (ie wills).
    i have labelled all files and manilla folders with a labelmaker, and i scoot the tabs on top of the files into positions that make sense within my system.
    it looks tidy.
    but of course the only thing that really matters is that our filing systems work for us, however we choose to set them up.

    gotta tell you though, i SUCK at digital filing and rely heavily on evernote’s powerful search feature!
    and my bookmarks are horrible.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.